The U.S. Arsenal Is Antiquated And Falling Apart
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Despite the daily stories of billion dollar purchasesand enormous contracts, the military’s main arsenal of ships, tanks, helicopters, and planes is decades old and ready to be replaced.
The Wall Street Journal reports that because the U.S. spent the last decade developing weapons and equipment for two specific conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, updating the rest of the arsenal was left undone.
In one instance, an Air Force pilot flies the same 30-year-old F-15 his father flew; in another, an Air Force navigator bought an off-the-shelf GPS to get better weather data and aviation notices than what’s available in his C-130 cargo plane.
Much of the equipment currently in service dates to the Reagan-era arms buildup, when the Defense Department reversed the spending decline that followed the Vietnam War. The Abrams tank, the Army’s main battle tank, entered service in 1980. The Bradley infantry fighting vehicle, an armored troop carrier, debuted a year later.
The Aegis guided-missile cruiser, a warship designed to counter the threat of Soviet warplanes armed with antiship missiles, entered service in 1983. Today, the bridges of older Aegis ships are reminiscent of the video arcades of the 1980s: monochromatic consoles with push-button controls. “The systems that we are replacing are Commodore 64 technology,” says Navy Capt. Brian Eckerle, invoking the primitive home computer to describe ongoing efforts to modernize Cold War-era ships.
With budget cuts coming, Washington is quick to pint out that money isn’t the problem — that the U.S. spends more than $700 billion a year on Defense, and should be able top modernize its equipment without jeopardizing national security.